When I first saw Parkland on the news it was about 6 PM and CNN said “two dead” and I thought oh, that’s awful. And five hours later I saw “17 dead” and “exceeded Columbine” and “don’t talk about gun control, let the families grieve” and “no, do talk about gun control it’s the only way things will change.”
Columbine was nearly twenty years ago, Sandy Hook just over five. To say nothing of Vegas or Orlando or Santa Monica or Virginia Tech or – or – or –
I could go on.
We could all go on and on and on.
Before this week I’d never heard of Parkland, Florida or Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I didn’t know anyone who was there, did not know any of the victims, did not know the perpetrator or the families. But in the past four days I cried over it about four times.
My Facebook feed is now one giant fishbowl debate with ugly accusations against “the Republicans” and “the right” and flimsy defenses against “the Dems” and “the left” but the fact is, that’s about how things have been since November, 2016. The arguments this week are just more focused on guns.
Sorry, not guns. Mental health.
Yeah, give me a fucking break.
I really don’t like mass-labeling parties like that, but even I submitted this week and texted my friend: if the right is so fucking convinced the problem is mental health and not guns then why don’t they support affordable healthcare?
I’m not sure it’s fair to just say “fuck the Republicans” though, because the fact is I know a lot of normal Republicans. My dad is still a Republican so he can “vote against Trump as soon as I f-ing can,” and my grandparents are Republican but I don’t actually think they’ve voted red in decades. I’m registered Independent – but could see going blue – but more than that I think blanketing individuals in our political parties as being beyond hope is not going to be conducive for anything.
Anyway, my thoughts and prayers are with Parkland; I also fully support gun control. The fact is, when the data is presented, there’s no denying that gun control is the right way to go. Gun control has a shittier opposition than any other controversial topic in America.
Usually I like to recognize both sides in an argument, listen to them, consider them, write whole novels presenting discussions on these subjects. With most topics, I set up my camp in the gray areas.
But damn, I just can’t do that here.
Twenty years ago, 15 people were killed in a high school shooting.
This week, 17 people were killed in a high school shooting.
Call me crazy, but I feel like a developed country should have maybe done something in the twenty years between those attacks.
I can’t be proud of my country this week.
Sometimes, despite our administration and despite our flaws, I can find it in myself to love America and to continue to try and fight for it.
But this week, I can’t do that.
This week I find myself thinking of 2016, when a man with a knife carried out an attack at Ohio State University. At the time, my sister was studying at OSU. At the time, we didn’t know he only had a knife (in fact, I assumed he had a gun because it was a university attack in America, so …. obviously.) At the time, I had the very small thought that my sister and I might never see each other again.
But the fact is, he only had a knife.
And the fact is, he didn’t kill anyone.
-Grace T, February 2018